Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Precious moment with Diana

Angelique Reweti has vivid memories of meeting Princess of Wales.

Angelique Rewiti and her son, Isaiah, 6 months, with the photo of her, aged 8, with Diana, Princess of Wales in Auckland in 1983. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Angelique Rewiti and her son, Isaiah, 6 months, with the photo of her, aged 8, with Diana, Princess of Wales in Auckland in 1983. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It was more than 30 years ago but Angelique Reweti still vividly remembers the moment she met a young Diana, Princess of Wales.

At the time Mrs Reweti was an 8-year-old dancer in a production of the New Zealand Ballet's Coppelia, which Diana and her husband attended at Auckland's St James Theatre.

Being chosen to deliver a bouquet of flowers to the Princess was the thrill of a lifetime.

"It is still really fresh in my memory," recalled Mrs Reweti, 39.

"I remember all the TV cameras and photographers ... she was a real Princess, and when you are an 8-year-old, that's the stuff of fairytales.

"She was wearing the most beautiful lilac gown and she glided in on the red carpet. It was literally like a fairytale coming to life."

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Photo / AP

Mrs Reweti spoke to the Herald with her six-month-old son on her knee. Now working in Maori health, she and her husband have settled in Palmerston North.

"I went up and had to do a little curtsy, and I couldn't believe she was speaking to me. It seemed to me like she had the voice of an angel.

"She just said, 'Are you dancing tonight?'. I said yes I was, and she said she was looking forward to seeing me dance. And I remember Prince Charles was standing by her side, but I was more enthralled with Princess Diana."

The St James is now boarded-up in a state of disrepair. In 1983 the theatre's management had worked furiously to attempt to rid the venue of the after-effects of vandalism the day before the royals arrival. Foul-smelling liquid had been spilled throughout the theatre.

"I remember the smell, it smelled of rotten fish," Mrs Reweti said. "Security was really tight."

A baby to care for means it's unlikely Mrs Reweti will get to see the next generation of royals.

"It really was a big deal back then. I think people are interested now, but it's not quite the same," Mrs Reweti said. "It was huge, I remember we had time off school and all the schoolchildren were waving in the streets."

Where to see the royals

Monday, April 7: Wellington Public drive to Government House via Oriental Bay.
Thursday, April 10: Blenheim/Wellington Lay wreath at War Memorial, Seymour Square and public walk; WWI event and Flying Day at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.
Friday, April 11: Auckland Public walk/drive along Halsey St to the Viaduct Harbour.
Saturday, April 12: Waikato Public drive/walk in Cambridge.
Sunday, April 13: Dunedin/Queenstown Ngai Tahu welcome at airport; service at Cathedral Church of St Paul, The Octagon, then public drive to Forsyth Barr Stadium; Queenstown Airport.
Monday, April 14: Christchurch Ngai Tahu welcome, Christchurch City Council building; various events around Latimer Square.
Wednesday, April 16: Wellington Walk through Civic Square.

- NZ Herald

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